Infographic: Iron Fact Sheet

It is a well-known fact that meat, poultry and fish are excellent sources of "heme" or "haem" iron.  Heme iron is generally more easily absorbed than the "non-heme" iron found in plants.

Yet studies show that while iron deficiency in the general population is fairly common, individuals eating a healthy plant-based or plant-strong diet (i.e., vegans and vegetarians) do not have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than omnivores (individuals who eat meat and dairy).  In fact, studies show that the iron status in vegans is generally normal.  How is this possible?

One of the leading causes for iron deficiency is poor absorption by the body.  Poor or low absorption can be caused by:

✔ Antacids (used to treat heartburn, acid reflux and peptic ulcers)
✔ Tannins (found in tea, coffee and wine)
✔ Phytates (found in grains, nuts and seeds)
✔ Polyphenols (found in a wide array of phytonutrient or phytochemical-bearing foods)
✔ Calcium (found in milk and other dairy products)

For example, calcium can decrease the amount of heme-iron absorbed in a meal.

On the other hand, vitamin C is known to enhance non-heme iron absorption when eaten in the same meal.  Vitamin C is abundant in many fruits and vegetables - foods that form the basis of a healthy vegan or vegetarian diet.

Studies show that individuals eating a balanced, whole-food plant-based or plant strong diet have a high dietary intake (approximately double the RDA) of iron as well as a high intake (as much as three to four times the RDA) of vitamin C.

This infographic entitled "Iron Fact Sheet" provides the recommended daily requirements for men, women, teenagers and children.  It also illustrates 12 non-animal iron food sources and the amount of iron found in a typical serving:

❤ Blackstrap Molasses
❤ Butter Beans
❤ Lentils
❤ Peaches, dried
❤ Pumpkin Seeds
❤ Prune Juice
❤ Quinoa
❤ Soybeans, cooked (Edamame)
❤ Spinach, cooked
❤ Spirulina, Powdered
❤ Tofu
❤ Tomato Paste

Other excellent plant-based food sources of iron include:

❤ Almonds
❤ Apricots, dried
❤ Beet Greens, cooked
❤ Black Beans, cooked
❤ Black-eyed Peas, cooked
❤ Bok Choy, cooked
❤ Broccoli, cooked
❤ Brussels Sprouts, cooked
❤ Bulgur (Bulghur, Bulgar), cooked
❤ Cashews
❤ Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), cooked
❤ Collard Greens, cooked
❤ Kale, cooked
❤ Kidney Beans, cooked
❤ Lima Beans, cooked
❤ Millet, cooked
❤ Peas, cooked
❤ Pinto Beans, cooked
❤ Potatoes
❤ Raisins
❤ Sesame Seeds
❤ Sunflower Seeds
❤ Swiss Chard, cooked
❤ Tahini
❤ Tempeh
❤ Turnip Greens, cooked
❤ Tomato Juice
❤ Watermelon

Further Reading:
Iron (Vegan Society)
What Every Vegetarian Needs to Know About Iron (No Meat Athlete)
Iron in the Vegan Diet (Vegetarian Resource Group)
Iron and Iron Deficiency (MedicineNet)

Infographic Source:  Unknown, please contact us for credit

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